Pro-Life Leaders Not Giving Up On 20-Week Abortion Ban: It Will Definitely Get a Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 23, 2015   |   10:41AM   |   Washington, DC

Top pro-life members of Congress and leading pro-life organizations are united in the face of opposition from some pro-life Republican members of Congress to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. They are vowing to not give up on unborn babies and promise the bill will eventually get a vote in the House and Senate.

A handful of pro-life Republicans sabotaged the bill Thursday because they were unhappy with the language in the bill concerning women who are victimized by rape. But pro-life Senator Lindsey Graham, who is the prime Senate sponsor, says the bill will come back soon even though Republican leaders were forced to delay the vote.

“This is going to be about wholesale abortions on demand in 20 weeks, five months into pregnancy, and it won’t be about rape,” Graham said. “Nobody’s for rape.”

“Somebody in the House put a provision in there, if you didn’t report the rape to law enforcement, then it’s not going to be considered a legitimate rape. Well, that’s ridiculous,” Graham told reporters. “I’ve been, you know, in criminal law all my life, and the vast majority of women who are raped don’t report it, so we’re not going to go down that road.”

ultrasound4d28Graham has introduced the Senate companion to that legislation, and conceded he did not recognize there was a problem.

“We’re going to fix it. I really, didn’t really pick that up. Quite frankly, it passed the House, but they used some law enforcement definition,” Graham said. “I’m a traditional Hyde amendment guy.”

“I can’t wait for the debate. I’m looking forward to the debate. I want to hear how we’re a better country by aborting babies at 20 weeks,” said Graham, who indicated that as he envisions it, his bill would come as part of a broader debate on related issues, in what could prove a real test of the willingness of senators to take difficult votes.

The National Right to Life Committee, the brain trust behind the bill, is also confident the measure will be back for a full vote in the House and Senate.

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National Right to Life President Carol Tobias told, “The House of Representatives did not pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this week because certain lawmakers who voted for the same language in 2013, and who had promised their pro-life constituents that they would do so again, instead worked to weaken the bill or to prevent it from coming to the floor.”

“While we are profoundly disappointed that the vote on the bill was delayed, we much prefer delaying the vote to passing a greatly weakened bill,” Tobias said. “We thank the House Republican leadership for quickly facilitating passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) which is another National Right to Life legislative priority.”

“Pro-life citizens across the nation are sharply disappointed with those lawmakers who violated commitments to constituents and derailed a bill to protect babies in the sixth month and later, a bill with broad popular support,” Tobias said. “In some cases these actions were apparently dictated mainly by inordinate concern with political correctness and garnering favorable coverage from the mainstream news media. Some of these lawmakers may ultimately conclude that they were ill advised to sacrifice the trust of their pro-life constituents so egregiously.”

Tobias complained that Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) played the most visible public role in the successful campaign to stymie action on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – even though she voted to pass exactly the same bill language on June 18, 2013. In an interview with National Journal (Jan. 16), Ellmers suggested that voting on the bill would turn off millennials (even though some polls show particularly strong support for the ban in that age cohort).

A Jan. 21 interview in Business Week quoted Ellmers as saying, “We should not be looking back in history, we should be looking forward.” On Jan. 20, Ellmers personally went to the House floor to withdraw her cosponsorship of the bill. Yet on Jan. 22 she told The Weekly Standard that she would vote to pass the bill with or without language that she preferred, noting, “I have a very pro-life district…”

Other top leaders in Congress confirm the 20-week abortion ban is returning.

“We’re going to bring this bill back. This is a fight that’s not over. We’re going to continue working to get this bill passed,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told The Hill on Thursday.

Scalise was attending the annual March for Life, a rally against abortion rights that is staged every year on the National Mall to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Separately, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), one of the sponsors of the pulled bill, said leadership gave him a “word of honor” the measure will get floor action.

Members of the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, which works to elect politicians who oppose abortion rights, said they met personally with McCarthy (R-Ca.) on Wednesday night, and that he assured them the GOP would bring the bill back up soon.

“He said he’s committed to bringing it to the floor quickly and we’re going to hold him to that,” said SBA president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“He made a very strong commitment and I believe him,” added former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Co.), who was also in the meeting

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) also withdrew her cosponsorship on January 20, yet continued to affirm to constituents that she would vote to pass the bill (as she had in 2013).

National Journal reported (Jan. 21): “Tellingly, Rep. Marsha Blackburn [(R-Tenn.)]. . . gave an impassioned speech in [the House Republican] conference, noting that because of the rape clause, the GOP was again fumbling over this sensitive subject instead of talking about other issues, according to sources in the meeting.” Yet in April 2014, Blackburn said in writing on a signed questionnaire submitted to National Right to Life that she supported virtually identical language pertaining to the reporting of sexual crimes – applied throughout pregnancy.